30. Editorial Note

Japanese Prime Minister Sato made a State visit to Washington November 19-21, 1969. Six memoranda of his conversations with President Nixon are in the National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, VIP Visits, Box 924, Sato 11/19-21/69. During two of those conversations, on November 20 in the Oval Office from 10:18 [Page 79] a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and again on November 21 from 10:21 to 11:10 a.m., the President and the Prime Minister discussed an accommodation on textiles. The Prime Minister said he was bound by a unanimous resolution in the Diet against a bilateral agreement with the United States on textiles. The President suggested that before the United States “at an appropriate time” took the issue to GATT he and the Prime Minister attempt to work out a common position in order to avoid a confrontation in Geneva. Documentation on the bilateral textile negotiations is scheduled for publication in a forthcoming Foreign Relations volume covering Japan. At the November 20 meeting the President and Prime Minister also discussed trade and capital liberalization and Japan’s economic role in Asia. Regarding liberalization, the President said that if Sato could make a good statement on liberalization it would help him hold protectionism at bay domestically: “if Japan, which currently enjoyed such a favorable balance of trade, did not relax its restrictions people here would question why we should.” The Prime Minister “agreed completely” with the President that apart from textiles they should broadly move toward freer trade.

The President noted that “Japan was now at a point where it could play a greater role … not just in Asia but on the world scene … that Japan should move to a ‘higher posture’ in the area of trade, investment, political development of Asia and, to the extent we can agree between us even in security … the world would be healthier if Japan could be added ‘as a fifth finger’ to the four existing areas of great power, the United States, Western Europe, the Soviet Union and China.” Prime Minister Sato replied that he hoped the Japanese people understood how much they were indebted to the United States for its assistance and cooperation after World War II, and how it had been “quite a shock to Japan” to learn that the Allied Powers had been preparing postwar Japan policy during the height of the war. In that context, and without making any firm commitments, he and the President exchanged views on how Japan might cooperate in Asian development during the post-Vietnam period.